Press Release from WBC:

Trading Standards officers from the Public Protection Partnership supported Thames Valley Police in Newbury and Wokingham with their ongoing work in relation to knife crime with a series of test purchase operations last week.

Out of the twenty two stores visited across Newbury and Wokingham, underage volunteers, working with the Public Protection Partnership’s Trading Standards team and Thames Valley Police, were sold no knives.

The only sale was a pair of scissors voluntarily marked as not for sale to under 18’s and this store in Newbury has been advised by the police about the sale.

Four of the stores did not have knives on site and the rest refused the sale. Some stores have started locking away knives from the shelves and age must be proven before any will be shown, other stores now have tickets on the shelves which can be taken to the till and exchanged for the knife, again when age is proved.

These test purchase requests show a marked improvement to those carried out in Newbury and Bracknell during National Knife Awareness Week in March this year which showed a failure rate of four in twenty six.

Councillor Hilary Cole, Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, said: “It is illegal to sell a knife, or similar product, to anyone under 18 years of age and best practice is for the retailer to adopt a recognised age verification system such as Challenge 21 or Challenge 25. Retailers of all sizes need to ensure their employee training policies are thorough and robust with regard to responsible knife sales.”

Any West Berkshire, Wokingham Borough or Bracknell Forest resident who has concerns about the sale of knives to young people, or any other trading standards or public protection matter, should contact the service on 01635 519930 or e-mail tsadvice@westberks.gov.uk.